Tsutomu "Tom" Shimura (born 1972), better known by his stage name Lyrics Born (formerly Asia Born), is a Japanese American rapper, producer, songwriter, and voice over announcer. He is also one half of the group Latyrx with Lateef the Truthspeaker. History edit: Through his childhood, Shimura lived in Tokyo, Japan, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Berkeley, California. He is the son of Japanese author, Takao Shimura, and an Italian/Jewish-American union organizer, Charlotte Arzio-Shimura. Shimura's parents were divorced by age 2, at which point he moved with his mother from Tokyo to Salt Lake City, Utah, and then finally to Berkeley California. Shimura attended Berkeley public schools from the time he was 6 yrs old, often excelling in creative writing. "I think I got my gift from my father. Not only the talent, but the work ethic and lifestyle. Being an author and all, I saw how hard he worked, the hours he kept, and how much focus it required." He began dabbling in Hip-Hop and rapping when he entered Berkeley High School. He left after one year, and entered Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland. He left again after his sophomore year, and graduated from St. Mary's High School, located in Berkeley, California in 1990. Shimura began his hip hop career while at college at University of California, Davis, where he was a DJ at the college station KDVS. He is a founding member of the seminal, independent record label, Quannum Projects. He came up with fellow Bay Area and UC Davis companions Gift of Gab, and Chief Xcel of Blackalicious, Lateef the Truthspeaker, DJ Shadow, Joseph Patel, and Jeff Chang (formerly known as DJ Zen). He changed his stage name from Asia Born to Lyrics Born in 1995 citing the desire to have his career based on his merits as opposed to his ethnicity. Career edit: In 1993, Lyrics Born released his first single "Send Them", under the moniker "Asia Born", on the independent record label Solesides. In 1996 he formed the group "Latyrx", with Solesides label mate and fellow Bay-Area native, Lateef The Truthspeaker. Latyrx is a combination of the names, "Lateef" and "Lyrics". In 1997 Latyrx released the seminal album, "Latyrx-The Album". The album was well received and is often regarded as a classic within underground circles. 1 year later Solesides was disbanded and reformed as the current Quannum Projects label. In 1999, to commemorate the transformation of Solesides to Quannum, the label released "Quannum Spectrum", a label compilation executive-produced by Lyrics Born. The album spawned the international hit single and video, "I Changed My Mind". This would also signify Lyrics Born's first collaboration with German Funk group, The Poets of Rhythm, whom he would later executive produce for the Quannum label. Lyrics Born released his first solo LP on Quannum Projects, Later That Day, in October 2003, which spawned the hit single, "Callin' Out". The album features guests such as Cut Chemist of Jurassic 5, Gift of Gab, Lateef the Truthspeaker and Born's wife Joyo Velarde. In April 2005, he released a remix album, Same [email protected]#$ Different Day which was again released on his own Quannum Projects label. The album features remixes of five songs from Later That Day along with a number of new tracks which feature guests such as Bay Area legend E-40, hip-hop icon KRS-One, Stereo MCs, Casual of Hieroglyphics, Evidence of Dilated Peoples, DJ Shadow and Joyo Velarde. Also in 2005, Born released The Lyrics Born Variety Show: Season One CD, which was essentially an old-school mix tape vibe with remixes and blends of his studio albums as well as guest appearances on other artist's songs in addition to exclusive tracks. He has toured relentlessly for years in North America, South America, Australia, Europe and Japan and averages 150 shows per year. Early in 2005, Lyrics Born replaced his usual DJ, D-Sharp with a live band. The original band consisted of versed Bay Area musicians Kevin Choice (keys, vox), B'nai Rebelfront (guitar, vox), Darius Minaee (drums) and Uriah Duffy (bass, vox). Over the years the line-up has also consisted of other various musicians including bassist Marcus Phillips, drummer Thomas McCree and keyboardists Mike Blankenship (Lauryn Hill) and Kat Ouano of fellow Bay Area group Crown City Rockers. In 2006, he released The Lyrics Born Variety Show: Season Two CD mixed by DJ Enki, comprised once again of remixes, guest appearances, collaborations and exclusive material. Lyrics Born's first live album Overnite Encore: Lyrics Born LIVE was released on October 31, 2006. It was recorded in Australia and features half of the album from Sydney and the other half from Melbourne. The album is a live set featuring his backing band, as well as three new bonus studio tracks including the hit song "Knock Knock" produced by Hallway Productionz. The album received a 3.5 out of 4 star review in Rolling Stone magazine and featured artists such as Mistah F.A.B., Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Pigeon John and Tim "Herb" Alexander of Primus. The CD was the first live album to be released by Quannum Projects. His third mixtape, "The Lyrics Born Variety Show Season Three", featuring guest appearances by Chali 2na of Jurassic 5, The Gift of Gab, Lateef the Truthspeaker, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Joyo Velarde, Jake One, Pigeon John and more, was released in February 2008. The album was first released as a limited edition download available only on his website for $1.99. The mixtape featured exclusive tracks from his then upcoming new album, "Everywhere at Once", as well as previously unreleased studio tracks. Lyrics Born released his 2nd full length studio album, "Everywhere at Once" on April 22, 2008 on Epitaph/Anti- Records. The album is the MC/Producer's first studio release to integrate members of his live band instead of primarily sample-based loops. The record also features Chali 2na of Jurassic 5, Joyo Velarde, C-Holiday, DJ D-Sharp, Myron Glasper and hip-hop producers Jake One and Trackademicks who co-produced some of the album's tracks. The album spawned a video for the hit single, "I Like It, I Love It" which features the MC in various character costumes including Merlin the Wizard, Army Soldiers, Mr. T and more. The video was directed by Neon and was featured on MtvU, Australia's Rage and MySpace. The song itself was featured in the 2009 reboot of the movie, Friday the 13th, which was #1 at the box office its first week out. Other singles off the album that followed were "Hott 2 Deff", "Differences", "Top Shelf" and "Whispers", the latter of which also spawned a music video showcasing images of the MC's late friend and one-time Solesides alum, Benjamin "Mack B-Dog" Davis (whom the song was written about) intercut with performance footage of Lyrics Born. The video was directed by HKL Films and included in Pitchfork.com's top videos of 2008. Everywhere at Once was the most downloaded hip-hop album of the week on iTunes in its second week out. In March 2009 Lyrics Born released "Funky Hit Records", the first single from his forthcoming new album, 'As U Were'. The track was released on the internet as a free download to fans and was quickly picked up by Australia's Triple J Radio who began to play the song on air. Similar instances happened in the US when KEXP in Seattle began playing the track as well. The Lyrics Born/Trackademicks-produced song's launch included a music video which was featured on YouTube, gaining nearly 250,000 views to date. Riding the momentum of the song's buzz, the track was worked to college radio where it ended up at #1 on both RapAttack and RapNetwork charts. Lyrics Born released a fourth mixtape in his hit franchise, 'The Lyrics Born Variety Show', featuring collaborations, remixes, exclusives and special guests. The mixtape is released via Born's own Mobile Home Recordings in conjunction with VTech. The mixtape's release date was July 7, 2009 and features artists such as Kasabian, Soulico, Dosmoccos, Joyo Velarde, J-Boogie and more. Coinciding with the mixtape release was a new single and music video for the Latyrx reunion track, "Pushed Aside, Pulled Apart". The track features Lateef the Truthspeaker while the video was directed by Ra LaMotta from ApSci. Lyrics Born released a second proper single from his album As U Were titled "Lies X 3" with a video directed by Yoram Benz in the summer of 2010. The album As U Were was released on Decon Records and Born's own Mobile Home Recordings on October 26, 2010. The album received largely positive reviews and furthered his reputation as one of the most musically adventurous artists in Hip-Hop. A national tour followed, as well as int'l dates in Australia. Later in 2011 Lyrics Born teamed up with Yoram Benz again releasing a video for "Coulda Woulda Shoulda" featuring Sam Sparro, which quickly became one of his signature songs, receiving specialty airplay on San Francisco's Live 105 as well as club play with DJ's in the emerging Future Funk movement. After rumors of a reunion, Latyrx was officially put back on the map in 2011 with several high profile club and festival shows in the United States. That summer they played the sold-out San Francisco festival Outside Lands with a twelve-piece band including the Jazz Mafia string and horn sections. They also played the North Coast Music Festival as well as an exclusive appearance on the Google campus, and a double-date at The Independent in San Francisco. They announced they were working on their first album in 15 yrs entitled "The Second Album". The duo closed out the end of 2011 with the digital release of their first ever mixtape, "Latyrical Madness, Vol 1" on December 13, 2011. It featured a compilation of the group's older songs, as well as recent collaborations, and previously unreleased tracks. The release of 'Latyrical Madness' would signal the beginning of an intense 10-month period of releases for Lyrics Born. In January 2012, he announced the forthcoming release of 'The Lyrics Born Variety Show 5 On the The Floor", the 5th installment of his mixtape series. Season 5 would see many of his hits and signature songs undergo a Boogie, 2-Step, and 80's Soul overhaul, along with features and exclusive tracks, all mixed and remixed by longtime collaborator and recording engineer, DJ Icewater. Season 5 would also be unique to the Variety Show series in that it pays musical tribute to many deceased Soul and Hip-Hop icons by using their instrumentals under Shimura's vocals, & vice-versa. Music and vocals were quoted from artists such as Teena Marie, Nate Dogg, Luther Vandross, Guru of Gang Starr, Roger Troutman, and more. The first single, "Coulda Woulda Shoulda Biz", a mash-up of "Coulda Woulda Shoulda" and Teena Marie's 'Square Biz' was released on 1/20/12, followed by 'The Bay (Three Mix)' featuring Trackademicks and Lateef on 2/14/12. "The Lyrics Born Variety Show Season 5 On The Floor" was finally released as a free download on lyricsborn.com on 2/28/12. , Voiceover edit: In the fall of 2008 Lyrics Born became the voice over announcer for Cartoon Network's new Friday night franchise, 'You Are Here'. The MC currently voices bumpers for Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Batman, The Secret Saturdays, Ben 10: Alien Force and more. In 2009 the vocalist was featured as part of an exclusive radio ad campaign for the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, CA. Style edit: Lyrics Born's rhymes showcase a large vocabulary, and often complex rhythmic patterns, deployed via regular use of various rhyming techniques, such as alliteration, internal rhyme, and double entendres. His style also frequently blends such techniques with melody, for which he has coined the term "Em-singing". His style is influenced by groups and artists such as James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Syl Johnson, KRS-One, Jon Hendricks, Rakim, Kool G. Rap, The Sugarhill Gang and Ice Cube is often conversational, observant, and melodious. His signature, sandy baritone speaking/rapping voice and "Bay Area drawl" has drawn comparisons to Barry White, Tone-Loc, and Tom Waits. Songs such as "Before and After" explore the subtleties of day-to-day human relations while "The Last Trumpet" (with Lateef) features a very politically charged and globally conscious mindset. His collaborations with Lateef on Latyrx records often see them trading lyrics back and forth in quick succession - Lyrics Born and Lateef's methodology for writing this type of lyric is described by Lateef in the book How to Rap: "With Latyrx stuff, when we have parts that we're writing that we're both going to be trading off, we write them together for the most part. I'll sit there and write a rhyme, like I'll write a line or two and then we'll break up who's gonna say what, and he'll write a line or two and we'll break up who's gonna say what. It's a very organic process." Collaborations edit: Lyrics Born has collaborated with many artists including Kasabian, Galactic, DJ Shadow, The Bamboos, Soulico, Dosmoccos, Blackalicious, Jurassic 5, DJ Z-Trip (on the 2005 song "The Get Down"), Diverse (on the song "Explosive"), Tommy Guerrero, R. L. Burnside (on the song "Someday Baby"), Morcheeba, Zion I, Mistah F.A.B., Pigeon John, Suburban Legends (on the song "Can't Stop It"), and Lotus (American band) on the song "Cannon in the Heavens." He was instrumental in the signing of Pigeon John to Quannum in 2005 and executive produced and A&R'd the first album from the Los Angeles-based rapper on Quannum Projects, Pigeon John and the Summertime Pool Party, which was released in 2006. He executive-produced the debut EP and album from Joyo Velarde and is currently working on his forthcoming record, 'As U Were', due in the fourth quarter of 2010.